I met a man today that I allowed to ruin my whole time I spent in my public outreach work. (I realized later that I was the one that ruined it because I allowed the experience to consume my thoughts even though I had enjoyed several much more pleasant conversations.) The man was so completely unreasonable--condemning me because I do not believe as he does; demanding I accept his viewpoint even though it was seriously flawed; refusing to allow me to make any point; and finally, telling me that scripture was unimportant. In fact, at one point he actually said, "All you have to do is believe that Jesus is God and nothing else matters." At that point I asked him if I could share just one point from the Bible. (I wanted to help him reason on the point that if that was indeed all there was to know, why then does the Bible contain so much more instructional information?) However, his response was rude, close-minded and psychologically bullying, so I turned to leave. He acted exactly as I expected, getting one last insult in as I walked away. I refused to stoop to his level of childish behavior and just kept walking.
On top of that, another comment made by another person demonstrating complete ignorance of the facts got me worked up as well. That person made a sweeping generalization of "those people" (me and my fellow-believers), saying that they would never understand how someone could be so stupid. I really wanted to ask that person if they had ever even made an attempt to inquire what and why we believe a particular point or were they just close-minded and wanted to remain uninformed while they spouted their completely wrong perception of us. But I kept silent realizing it was not the right place or time to make an issue of things.
Then, later today, after several prayers but still not being able to shake it off (get it out of mind), I decided to read the Bible. (I am in the latter parts of Luke.) It almost seemed as if the counsel was exactly what I needed. I needed to keep a humble attitude like the tax collector, not comparing myself to others, not insulted or frustrated over other's insensitive arrogance (like what the Pharisee said in the illustration) but just humbly keep working out my own salvation while I try to reach honest-hearted people that are willing to have an intelligent and polite conversation. Here I was angered over others arrogance when in fact, I should just be focusing on what I can do to better myself. And that, in part, is what I feel Jesus’ point was in the this scripture—being humble, not comparing myself to others but focusing on what I can do to improve, refine and expand my relationship with my Creator.